Brian Cooley returns to the Jackrabbit coaching staff in 2014-15 for an eighth season overall, his sixth as an assistant coach after working two seasons on the SDSU bench as a graduate assistant.
“He’s a basketball junky, he’s in the office all of the time watching film, paying attention to our stats and keeping me up-to-date in terms of the things that he knows I think are most important,” head coach Scott Nagy said. “He just brings a good level-headed balance to our staff.”
Cooley serves as the Jackrabbits recruiting coordinator, as well as being involved in all aspects of the program, including game preparation, practice planning and leading the guards in player development workouts.
During his tenure as assistant coach, the Jackrabbits posted a 104-59 overall record, including a 71-31 mark the past three seasons that resulted in three straight postseason appearances, including back-to-back Summit League Tournament championships and NCAA tournament berths in 2012 and 2013, with a College Basketball Invitational bid in 2014.
The 2011-12 Jackrabbits made history across the board, winning the Summit League Tournament championship and earning the program’s first ever Division I NCAA Tournament berth, where the Jacks fell to Baylor in the second round. Season highlights include a win at Pac 12 champion Washington and finishing with a school best 44 RPI en route to a 27-win season, which ties the school record.
The 2012-13, Jackrabbits won both the regular season and post season Summit League championships before losing to Michigan in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The 25-10 record includes a perfect 13-0 mark at Frost Arena that extended the nation’s longest home winning streak to 30 games. The season also includes a win at Mountain West champion New Mexico, helping the Jackrabbits finish the season ranked 18th in the collegeinsider.com mid-major poll.
Cooley coached a total of eight Jackrabbits who went on to earn All-Summit League honors, including 2013 Summit League Player of the Year, the Jacks all-time leading scorer and assists man and the 38th overall pick in the 2013 NBA draft, Nate Wolters.
Before taking over as the teams’ recruiting coordinator, Cooley served as the program’s academic coordinator, helping the Jackrabbits to a 3.0 or better team grade point average from 2010-13, as well as helping the Jackrabbits earn 19 spots on the Summit League Academic All-League Team and a pair of CoSIDA Academic All-District selections during that span.
Cooley came to South Dakota State after working as an assistant under Jason Ryan at Bellevue East High School in Bellevue, Neb., in 2006-07.
A Papillion, Neb., native and 2002 graduate of Papillion-LaVista High School, Cooley earned all-state honorable mention in his senior year, as he led the Monarchs basketball team to a district runner-up finish. Serving as team captain, he finished his senior season in ranked in the top-10 among all Nebraska high schools with a 41 percent 3-point field goal and an 81 percent free throw percentage.
Papillion-LaVista High School inducted Cooley into its basketball hall of fame in 2002.
Cooley then took his game to Nebraska Wesleyan in Lincoln, Neb., where he played four years with the Prairie Wolves, earning the team’s defensive player of the year honor as a senior captain in 2005-06.
More than just a great all-around athlete, Cooley also earned Great Plains Athletic Conference Scholar Athlete honors in 2006, and graduated from Nebraska Wesleyan University in 2006 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in health and physical education.
Cooley graduated with his master’s degree in sports pedagogy from South Dakota State in the spring of 2009.